Divya Dutta on 6 years of ‘Badlapur’

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Divya Dutta surprised the audience with her turn as ‘Shobha’ in Sriram Raghavan’s ‘Badlapur’ and garnered many accolades for her versatility. Today, as the film clocks six years, ETimes caught up with the actress for an exclusive interview where she opened up about working with Varun Dhawan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, reactions she received after the release of the film, and more. Excerpts:
How do you look back at ‘Badlapur’?
I had a fantabulous time working with Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Varun Dhawan in the film. Varun, obviously, came as a bundle of energy; he is truly the heartthrob of the nation. It was a different role for me to be opposite him in the film but we never felt that I was senior or he was junior. We used to joke and have fun on the sets. All of it helped us play our characters well. I think he is a very talented and chilled-out guy; I would really love to work with him again. Nawaz is a multi-talented actor. The first time I met him on the sets, was when we were filming the jail scenes and he was in his costume. We had a polite and formal introduction. What was really interesting was that both of us are impromptu actors and our improvisation was magic. I thoroughly enjoyed my chemistry with Nawaz; we have done more films together after that.

How did you come on board the Sriram Raghavan film?
I proudly say that I actually asked for the film. I didn’t know Sriram Raghavan very well but I had an instinctive feeling that I belonged to this one. I knew I would really enjoy doing it and I just conveyed it to Sriram. Things worked out and I was a part of this film; I am glad I was.

Did you have any apprehensions since this was your first dark film?
‘Badlapur’ being a dark film did not bog me down in any manner nor did it make me apprehensive. I think firsts are always interesting and when you are in the hands of a director like Sriram Raghavan, you don’t have to worry even one bit. I thoroughly enjoyed it! I love to be a part of something I haven’t been a part of earlier.

Was it an intense shoot given the nature of the film or did you have fun on the sets?
We had loads of fun while shooting for the film. When you are working with like-minded people on a good script and enjoying your role, it works very well. With Sriram, Varun and Nawaz, it was just amazing! Sriram had a certain confidence in me even though we had just met. When filming the chase sequence, which was to be my introductory scene, I had to drive alongside a fast-running train. They asked me if I wanted a double and I refused. There was also a poetic scene for which Sriram asked me to speak in a certain way, and when I saw that on screen, it looked amazing. The film was a total team effort; we used to sit together and discuss things.

How would you describe your collaboration with Sriram Raghavan?
Sriram Raghavan is, by far, one of the most intelligent directors we have. His scripts are very clear in his mind. What I love about him is that he takes your inputs on how you feel about a scene; he makes it a collaborative effort, which makes an actor feel comfortable. I love the twists that he brings in every film of his; it is very thoughtful and a treat for his fans! Back then, I had just done ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ which had me playing the sister. I was the most popular sister at the time and received all possible awards for my role. So, to cast me in a role opposite Varun Dhawan required a director who has his own vision and belief system. I am so glad that he gave me Shobha.

What kind of response did you get after the release of the film?
I have been lucky to have been a part of some landmark films and ‘Badlapur’ is one of those. It did create a lot of buzz and was super hit. My character ‘Shobha’ became quite popular.

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Varun and you kissing had become the talking point at the time. Do you think it took attention away from your performance?
Yes, my kissing scene in the film with Varun did become a talking point. This is a story-oriented film so the scene was an integral part. We did make for an unconventional couple but a very interesting one at that. Very strangely, the scene became the talking point. I wouldn’t say it took away from my performance but yes it did become the highlight and I didn’t mind it for a change.

What are you working on next?
I am working on some interesting projects with Anubhav Sinha, Umesh Shukla, and Dibakar Banerjee. I also have ‘Dhaakad’ and two international films. I am also going to be a part of a big web show.

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